A voyage into the heart of the Oberheim Matrix-1000 analog synthesizer from the year 1987.
Exploration by Marko Ettlich (RetroSound)
2 oscillators per voice saw, triangle, square variable pulse width, fm
resonant filter 24dB/oct lowpass filter
used by Apollo 440, Moby, Fatboy Slim, Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, Faithless and many more
The analog Matrix 1000 is essentially 1,000 Matrix 6 patches in a single-space compact rackmount MIDI module. It has the same synth architecture as the Matrix 6. Each of its 6 voices have two DCO’s (digitally controlled analog oscillator), a low pass filter, 2 VCA’s, 3 envelope gens, 2 LFO’s, and 2 ramp gens. The sounds are plentiful and good enough, however sounds can only be edited via MIDI, so you’ll need an external MIDI editor (such as MOTU’s Unisyn) or Access’ Matrix Programmer to edit parameters. You can also load sounds from the Matrix 6 via SysEx or software.
The Matrix 1000 provides an excellent source of pads, textures and ambient sounds. It has 195 “keyboard” sounds, 118 “strings”, 130 “woodwinds & perc”, 239 “synthesizer”, 119 “bass”, 74 “lead” and 125 “effects”. For the price, there is no better way to find genuine analog Oberheim Matrix sounds in a compact and very in-expensive rack module that is loaded with more sounds than you’ll ever need! The older versions of the Matrix 1000 have a black front-panel. The newer models in the ’90′s have a cream colored face-plate.
Info on the OB-XA:
The OB-Xa is a massive analog synthesizer with a very familiar and classic Oberheim sound. Its sound, size and power are very similar to the Prophet 5 from Sequential. However this one has up to 8 voices which can be split, layered and stored!
The OB-Xa was available in four, six or eight voice polyphonic models. They all featured patch memories, also in varying degrees. A minimum of 32 patches were available on early models (4 banks of 8). The maximum amount of patch memory storage found on many OB-Xa’s is 120 patch memories. All models of OB-Xa, however, featured the new Curtis chips which offered great stability for an analog synth and they are attributed to its great filters and sounds.
The OB-X was very similar to the OB-Xa except that its voices could not be split or layered and, more significantly, the OB-X had a lowpass-only discrete SEM 12dB/oct state variable filter, which had a great and classic Oberheim sound. The OB-Xa changed that in an attempt to economize manufacturing and increase stability by switching to CEM3320 Curtis chips for its filters. The Xa offered two switchable filter modes: 12 dB/oct (2-pole) or 24 dB/oct (4-pole). This hardware change resulted in a more agressive sound, not quite as creamy as the OBX original, but what still became a “bread and butter” sound of the Oberheim line.
Splitting the keyboard mode separates the OB-Xa into two 4-voice synths with two available patches. The Layer mode plays the two patches simultaneously. There are also some added effect sources, perfect for any analog polysynth, including portamento, unison, sample & hold, chord memory and three LFO’s!
The Oberheim polyphonic is an analog music synthesizer that was produced from 1975 to 1979. Four dual-oscillator SEM modules each with its own filters and envelopes are joined together along with a simple analog mixer and 49-note keyboard to give you a polyphonic/polytonal Obie-beast!
This combination gives you eight oscillators and four voices of polyphony because there are basically four discrete mono-synths all connected together. This has its pros and cons. What is cool is that this was a lot of simultaneous voices for the mid-seventies. And the ability to craft a different sound on each voice led to some diverse and complex sounds. However, it also meant you have to program each voice independently. Each voice also has its own independent audio output.
The Polyphonic Synthesizer Programmer, released in 1976 and added to the Four Voice stores 16 patches per voice (all of which can be different). The Four Voice could accommodate an additional four SEMs, making it just like the Eight Voice model which officially appeared in 1977.
Unfortunately the Four Voice was blown out of the competition by the release of the polyphonic Sequential Prophet-5, which offered true polyphony with a single set of sound shaping controls and comprehensive patch memory.
Vintage synthesizer demo track by RetroSound
bass and sequencer sounds: ARP Odyssey Mk III Analog Synthesizer from the year 1980, sequenced by the SCI Pro-One internal step sequencer
all other sounds: Oberheim OB-Xa Analog Synthesizer from the year 1981
drums: Roland TR-707
recording: multi-track without midi
fx: a little bit delay and reverb
more info: http://www.retrosound.de
A frightening programming session on the nightmarish data entry of Oberheim Matrix 6. It seems an eternity, but in the Eighties this was the most common way to program the less expensive synthesizers: one parameter at time, first select then entering desired values!!!
God bless potentiometers and encoders (and Editor programs…).
The Matrix 6 was one of the last few synthesizers from Oberheim to come out during the mid-eighties following the classic OB-series. The Matrix 6 utilized high-tech but less expensive digital and midi features and still retained a totally analog sound. It did this by using DCOs (digitally controlled oscillators) to provide stability, programmability and more. All the Matrix synthesizers featured Matrix Modulation which allows for extremely wild virtual patching for almost unlimited range of sounds and modulation capabilities!
The Matrix 6 is a very popular synthesizer today because it offers access to the legendary sounds and power of the Matrix 12, though not as meaty but at a fraction of the cost. The Matrix 6 is also like the Xpander, but with only 6 voices of polyphony and slimmer programming. Each of its 6 voices has a pair of DCOs, a low pass filter, 2 VCA’s, 3 envelope generators, 2 LFO’s, and 2 ramp gens for a variety of complex analog pads, basses and sounds.
The programmability is vast, but it can be very tedious. As was the growing trend in synthesizers during this time, knobs and sliders were replaced by just a few membrane buttons and a simple data slider. This is accompanied by gobs of programming and patch data written across the face of the unit. Fortunately Midi SysEx is fully supported so you can get patches on-line and transmit them into the Matrix. Access, makers of the Virus, used to make the Matrix Programmer which gives you much more user friendly hands-on controls too. And software editors such as Unisyn make graphic editing possible for much easier programming.
Pearl Drum-X ( Kick, Snare, Tom ), Roland TR-808 ( open/close Hihat ), Roland TR-707 ( Master Clock ), Oberheim OB-1 ( Noise ), OSCar ( Bassline ), OSCar ( Funny Sound ), Roland Juno-60 + RE-201 ( Pad ), Elka Synthex ( Pad + Space Sound ), Minimoog ( Space Sound ), Roland Jupiter-4 ( Space Sound ), Fender Rhodes + Yamaha NE-1 + Electro Harmonix vintage Bass Micro Synthesizer playing ” Catching Sound Waves ” :-))
“New OB-Xa improvisation with a Saw/Square wave patch, 4-pole VCF sens. :)”
All you can eat vintage synths on this nice Sunday morning, featured gear listed below:
MOOG Minimoog / ARP Odyssey / KORG MS-20 / E-MU Modular System / MOOG System 55 / Sequential Circuits prophet-5 / Oberheim SEM / Oberheim OB-1 / RML ElectroComp 100 / Roland-SH-2 / KORG 800DV / EMS Synthi AKS / YAMAHA CS10
The title track from 1983′s Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) album has one of the most instantly recognisable synth riffs around. There have been many different theories about the synths used on it, but the consensus seems to be that either an Oberheim OB-X was used for both the left and right riffs, or perhaps a Juno-6 and Roland SH-09 for the left and right channel riffs, probably sequenced using a Roland CSQ-100.
I guess asking Eurythmics themselves wasn’t an option
Featured instruments in this video:
Alesis Metavox & 3630
Moog CP251 FreqBox MP 201
Logic Ultrabeat Drum